Truth and Justice: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty's blog

Justice for the 96

The words ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ have never been used with more authority or poignancy than this week, when the families and friends of those who died at Hillsborough ended a 27-year battle to discover what really happened on 15 April, 1989 and the disgraceful events that followed.

The events of the last few days, including the outpouring of emotion from the city of Liverpool at St George’s Hall, will no doubt have been bitter sweet for all those involved.

At this time, when the news agenda is filled with stories about Hillsborough and those who died, it is important we remember friends, colleagues and loved ones. Watching and hearing all the accounts cannot be easy for anyone connected with the tragedy.

No one should have to go through what families, friends and loved ones have suffered over the years and it is now they will need our support more than ever.

Liverpool is one of Britain’s great cities, but it is also a collection of different communities and it’s the strength in the community that has played a critical role in this achievement. There has been a core belief in justice, driven by hope and belief and everyone involved should be applauded for their persistence.

Life Rooms Walton

In many ways, the fight for justice over Hillsborough reminds me of our own role of supporting our local communities and building hope, little by little. This is why the Life Rooms Walton project is so important in establishing a centre for learning, recovery, health and wellbeing.

I spoke last week how the former Walton library can help tackle stigma but it also represents a great step forward for those service users on the road to recovery who want to rebuild their lives. Through services like the Recovery College they can learn new skills and there is guidance in literacy, numeracy and IT in a safe and warm environment.

We are building relationships all the time with businesses to help services users gain volunteering and employment opportunities through education. Put simply, after discharge from one of our inpatient units, this gives our patients a real focal point for our services that help aid recovery.

The Life Rooms will officially open to the public on 9 May, but this week we have held a series of open days to the local community and staff and mostly they have been thrilled by the restoration of a building built in 1911 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie’s money.

Those of you who have seen it can enjoy a virtual walk through of the building by clicking here. I’m sure you will all agree that Michael Crilly and the estates team (pictured below) have done outstanding work in transforming it into such a warm and welcoming environment.


Pictured left to right: Jo Minogue-Sharp, Alison Jordan, Michael Crilly, Deana Huizer, Jenny Cross, Michele Magee


I’d like to offer my congratulations to Mersey Care’s physical health promotion service, ‘Dr Feelwell,’ which has won the “Health and Wellbeing Initiative Category” at the National Service User Awards, sponsored by Cygnet Health Care.

Dr Feelwell is the result of two years of work, shaped by a group of patients and staff (Graphics Focus Group and Recovery Champions) around the limited availability of healthy lifestyle messages in this setting, prompting them to develop their own resources.

The virtual doctor is a simple yet powerful concept, allowing the key messages of health promotion to be delivered by staff and patients together, ‘doing with’ rather than ‘doing to’. The content of these messages has been taken from the public domain, simplified and made into basic lesson plans so that they can be delivered to ward communities by anyone. More information can be found here.


 Food for thought

The success of Dr Feelwell has got me thinking about many of the other innovative practices at Mersey Care, which should also be recognised. There are too many of you to name individually but I would like you all to think about submitting an entry for the Positive Practice Mental Health Awards 2016.

You can find more information about the awards and the various categories here and the deadline for submissions is 22 May. Could everyone who has submitted a nomination for an award please notify so we can draw up a full list of Mersey Care’s submissions.

And finally….

As you know, we have developed strong links with Ireland and their attempts to reduce suicide in line with our own policy for zero suicide in our care. As part of that, there is a Darkness Into Light 5km walk or run that takes place at 4.15am on Saturday, 7 May. The aim is to raise funds for Pieta House, the self-harm or suicide crisis centre in Dublin.

Those of you who saw last week’s blog will have seen a picture of me holding one of the official t-shirts for the event and it appears I have started a trend if you look at the pictures below…


The event started eight years ago in Dublin and obviously has similar aims and objectives to what we are trying to do with our zero suicide policy and the Big Brew campaign. Those of you who wish to attend the Liverpool walk, which starts at St Michael’s Irish Centre on West Derby Road, can do so here.

They have kindly donated four t-shirts to Mersey Care so, on a first come, first served basis, we are giving them all away to anyone who will be attending the event. There are four different sizes - XXL, L, M and children’s 12-13 – and can be collected from the Communications department at V7.